Cost Effective Renovation: Cold Storage Room

Cost Effective Renovation: Cold Storage Room
  • Opening Intro -

    You can pay tens of thousands of dollars for certain home renovations and gain little from the upgrade in terms of personal enjoyment, usefulness and an increase in your home’s value.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in your home, but it may give you pause to consider what would be the most beneficial to meet your personal needs.


Self Reliance

Americans have always had a spirit of self-reliance, something we tend to forget when we look to the federal government for help. There is a reason why our nation is desperately in debt — tens of millions of Americans have forgotten what brought our country to greatness and it wasn’t the entitlement mentality prevalent today. More than likely, they simply haven’t been taught how to rely on each other instead of government largesse.

One renovation cost conscious homeowners may want to consider is a cold storage room. These rooms do not rely on refrigeration or electric powered climate control to maintain even temperatures. Instead, a cold storage room is designed to work with naturally occurring temperature variations to produce a room suitable for storing such perishables as fresh fruit and vegetables.

Useful for most of the year, cold storage rooms lose their effectiveness during summer months, but can still prove beneficial for fall, winter and spring.

Storage Rooms

Before refrigeration, cold storage rooms were the way many homeowners kept the vegetables that they grew. Leaving fruit and vegetables at room temperature means that these items will quickly perish. With cold storage, you can pick your veggies in the summer and keep whatever you don’t use well into the following spring.

Today’s cold storage rooms can be modified to accommodate a refrigerator, if needed. However, reliance on refrigeration defeats the purpose of these rooms, but an extra fridge or freezer can be used to store meats. If you’re in a rural location, you’ll want to have a back up generator to prepare for the possibility of losing your power.

Room Location

Where in the house should you build your cold storage room? If you have a basement, you have a natural storage area available, particularly if your basement is insulated. Known as “root cellars” in New England, many older homes already have them.

Insulation is important because in colder, northerly climates temperatures can sometimes drop below freezing even in basement. Cold air is beneficial for fruits and vegetables, but a freeze will do similar damage to your stored food to what Florida farmers face when encountering a cold snap.

You can also use a room or closet on the main floor of your home. That room must be well insulated and it shouldn’t have a heat source. You can shut a damper or turn off a radiator to keep the room cool. You can also have a contractor install ventilation or a fan to ensure adequate air flow. As much as possible, you want to rely on natural ventilation because in an extended power outage, you could lose your food if you’re reliant on electricity to keep your cold storage room cool.

Shelving & Bins

Beyond preparing a room, homeowners will need to invest in shelving to keep everything elevated. Leaving a container of potatoes on the floor can damage them if you hit a sudden cold snap and forget where you left them. Plastic bins, filled with moistened sand is ideal for certain cultivars such as potatoes, gourds, pumpkins, squash and eggplant. Place these bins on lower shelves for easy access.

Cold storage rooms are a low cost renovation.

If you can and preserve foods, these items can be place on the upper shelves. Canned or jarred goods will remain cool, but be protected from extreme cold. Cold air is heavier than warm air and thus sinks; your upper shelves should always be a few degrees warmer.

Renovation Costs

How much does a cold storage room renovation cost? Under $100 if you use your insulated basement and make use of existing shelving. Add in some bins and a few garage or yard sale shelving fines, and you should be ready to.

Your renovation will cost much more if you need to put up walls, add insulation, buy shelving and bins and make changes to your ventilation. Weigh these costs with the benefits which is fresh home grown goodness from your garden well into the winter, perhaps reaching into the following spring.


North Carolina State University: Vegetable Cultivar Descriptions for North America

University of Missouri Extension: Home Storage of Fruits and Vegetables in Root Cellars

Prepared LDS Family: 10 Tips on How to Store Nuts for Food Storage

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Categories: Home Storage

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".